Published July 16, 2018. Updated December 5, 2023. Open access.

Gallery ❯

Blue-throated Dwarf-Iguana (Enyalioides microlepis)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Hoplocercidae | Enyalioides microlepis

English common names: Blue-throated Dwarf-Iguana, Small-scaled Woodlizard.

Spanish common names: Iguana enana gargantiazul, lagartija de palo microescamada.

Recognition: ♂♂ 31.5 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=12.7 cm. ♀♀ 26.4 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=11.6 cm..1 Enyalioides microlepis differs from other medium-sized spiny lizards in the Ecuadorian Amazon by its granular dorsal scales, strongly projected spiny vertebral crest, skull roof (casque head flattened at the top), and unique coloration. The dorsum is yellowish-brown with jaguar-like brown spots, a dark subocular mark, and a blackish throat patch (blueish in males; Fig. 1).1 The species further differs from the other dwarf iguanas in Amazonian Ecuador by having incomplete dorsolateral crests and lacking projecting, conical scales on top of dorsum.1 This species is often confused with E. cofanorum. In adult males of the latter species, the projecting dorsal scales are present and the dorsolateral crests are complete and conspicuous.13 Males of E. microlepis are larger than females and have a more contrastig coloration (Fig. 1).13

Figure showing variation among individuals of Enyalioides microlepis

Figure 1: Individuals of Enyalioides microlepis from Gareno, Napo province, Ecuador.

Natural history: Enyalioides microlepis is an extremely rare lizard that is difficult to observe during the daytime due to its cryptic camouflage. This species occurs in pristine lowland rainforests, which may be terra-firme or seasonally flooded by white-water rivers.1,4 Blue-throated Woodlizards are active during the daytime on shaded areas of the forest floor, staying immobile for prolonged periods of time on the leaf-litter or on logs.1,4 At night, they roost on stems and twigs 0.4–1.0 m above the ground.1,4 They have also been found hidden under logs.1 Their preferred predator avoidance strategy is staying still and blending against the leaf-litter or running into cover.5

Reader support helps us keep the Reptiles of Ecuador book 100% free.

Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..5 Enyalioides microlepis is listed in this category primarily on the basis of the species’ wide distribution, presumed stable populations, and presence in protected areas. Although, E. microlepis is considered rare, this is probably due to the difficulty of detecting individuals in the wild rather than to actual low population densities.

Distribution: Enyalioides microlepis is native to the western Amazon basin in Colombia, Ecuador (Fig. 2), and Peru.

Distribution of Enyalioides microlepis in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Enyalioides microlepis in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Sarayacu, Pastaza province. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The generic name Enyalioides, which comes from the Latin words Enyalius (a genus of neotropical lizards) and the suffix oides (=similar to), refers to the similarity between lizards of the two genera. The specific epithet microlepis comes from the Greek words mikros (=small) and lepis (=scale),6 and refers to the small scales on the dorsal aspect of the head and body.

See it in the wild: Blue-throated Dwarf-Iguanas are usually found in closed-canopy situations rather than in open or semi-open areas. These cryptic reptiles are easier to detect by sampling well-preserved forest trails at night with the aid of a flashlight. In this way, roosting individuals may be detected at a rate of 1–3 individuals per year. The localities having the greatest number of recent observations of this species are Gareno and Villano, Pastaza province.

Authors: Alejandro ArteagaaAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador. and Gabriela AguiarbIndependent researcher, Quito, Ecuador.

Photographer: Alejandro ArteagaaAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador. and Sebastián Di DoménicocAffiliation: Keeping Nature, Bogotá, Colombia.

How to cite? Arteaga A, Aguiar G (2023) Blue-throated Dwarf-Iguana (Enyalioides microlepis). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/RPCC3337

Literature cited:

  1. Torres-Carvajal O, Etheridge R, de Queiroz K (2011) A systematic revision of Neotropical lizards in the clade Hoplocercinae (Squamata: Iguania). Zootaxa 2752: 1–44. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.2752.1.1
  2. Duellman WE (1978) The biology of an equatorial herpetofauna in Amazonian Ecuador. Publications of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas 65: 1–352.
  3. Duellman WE (1973) Descriptions of new lizards from the upper Amazon basin. Herpetologica 29: 228–231.
  4. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book.
  5. Caicedo J, Calderón M, Cisneros-Heredia DF, Ines Hladki A, Ramírez Pinilla M, Renjifo J, Urbina N, Perez P, Gagliardi G (2016) Enyalioides microlepis. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T44578920A44578931.en
  6. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington D.C., 882 pp.

Appendix 1: Locality data used to create the distribution map of Enyalioides microlepis in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used. Asterisk (*) indicates type locality.

ColombiaAmazonasPuerto NariñoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorLoretoPebasDixon & Soini 1986
EcuadorMorona SantiagoRío LlushinoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorMorona SantiagoRío SantiagoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorNapoGarenoThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorPastazaAndoasTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaArajunoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaBalsauraOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaCampo VillanoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2023
EcuadorPastazaCanelosTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaCapahuari river, mouth ofTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaChichirotaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaConamboOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaJuyuintzaOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaKurintzaOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaLorocachiTorres-Carvajal et al. 2023
EcuadorPastazaMontalvoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaMoretecochaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaPaparawuaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2019
EcuadorPastazaPindoyacuTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaPuerto SantanaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPastazaRío CurarayTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaRío TigreTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaRío VillanoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaSarayacu*O’Shaughnessy 1881
EcuadorPastazaTarangaroTorres-Carvajal et al. 2019
EcuadorPastazaTerritorio ShiwiarOrtega-Andrade et al. 2010
EcuadorPastazaVillanoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
PeruAmazonasAintamiTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
PeruAmazonasHuampamiTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
PeruAmazonasKusuTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
PeruAmazonasPaisTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
PeruAmazonasQuebrada ShinganatzaAlmendáriz et al. 2014
PeruAmazonasSan Antonio, Río CenepaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
PeruAmazonasSua, on the Río CenepaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
PeruLoretoAndoasVenegas et al. 2011
PeruLoretoBarrancaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
PeruLoretoCapahuari norteVenegas et al. 2011
PeruLoretoMouth of Río SantiagoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
PeruLoretoPozo RuntusapaVenegas et al. 2011
PeruLoretoPuerto Soledad, 12 km E ofiNaturalist; photo examined
PeruLoretoSan JacintoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
PeruLoretoTutapiscoiNaturalist; photo examined